Thursday, January 31, 2008

McCann advised 'another chance' for priest

Marie Rohde reports in the online edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on documents released by our Archdiocese of Milwaukee as part of the settlement of California lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of children by priests.
as early as 1983, church officials went to E. Michael McCann, then Milwaukee County district attorney, and told him about a pedophile priest's record of sex abuse, without naming the priest.

McCann reportedly advised the church to take the priest out of ministry "for about five years, and if no complaints come forth in that time perhaps he can be given another chance." McCann did not ask for the priest's name nor raise issues of prosecuting the priest criminally.

I recall that former Archbishop Weakland confided in Mr. McCann about the relationship with Paul Marcoux. In the later negotiations with Marcoux, our Archdiocese's lawyer allegedly represented that McCann called Marcoux's demands extortion.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2006-2007 Archdiocese of Milwaukee Financial Statements

This PDF is the complete audited financial statements for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

A pdf image, rather than document, in case you were thinking you'd copy and paste from, say, Note 8 (pp. 14-15), or Note 17 (p. 22).

Update: A reader points out a few other items. The Statement of Cash Flows (p. 5) showed "Net realized/unrealized gains" [(losses)] of ($5,972,116) for 2007. Presumably as a result, Note 7 (p. 14) refers to a $6 million line of credit from Park Bank. Notice the bank required this be secured by a mortgage on the Cousins Center property. In the Statement of Activities (p. 4) there is "Impairment of leasehold improvements" of $674,178 in 2007 and $2,110,690 in 2006, apparently improvements to buildings which will be sold. Note 1 on Accounts Receivable (p. 7) includes "doubtful accounts" of $725,552 in accounts and notes receivable and $1,717,778 in parish obligations.

$3 million deficit forces archdiocese to make cuts

Tom Heinen reports today in the online edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The possible sale of the Archdiocese's headquarters Cousins Center fell through. The expected proceeds of that sale were to fund part of the settlement of priest sexual abuse claims in California (see my earlier posts). The sale falling through is one factor in "substantial cuts in staffing and services for the fiscal year that begins July 1". The other is the lawsuits in Wisconsin that will now be proceeding (see my previous post).
When the California lawsuits were settled, it appeared that the archdiocese had avoided the possibility of having to file for bankruptcy. But the Wisconsin suits may lead to reconsideration of that because, except for the Cousins Center, the archdiocese has sold most of its property and does not have reserves, Topczewski [Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan] said.

P.S. In an unrelated development, Archdiocese of Milwaukee to Underwrite PBS Program Prayer in America.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 2008 Information on Clergy Sexual Abuse

A reader points out the following.

On January 28, 2008, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee published information related to the issue of clergy sexual abuse. This information includes:

- Archbishop Dolan's Letter to the Catholic Community

- An Overview of Siegfried Widera, Bruce MacArthur, Franklyn Becker

- A Summary of Franklyn Becker Documents

- Questions and Answers

- How to report sexual abuse

- An update on pending Wisconsin legislation, including Archbishop Dolan's testimony to a Wisconsin State Senate committee

In his letter, our Archbishop writes,
Some of you might ask, "Why are you telling us this; why can’t you just let this be over and move on?" Believe me, part of me would like nothing more, but, I know that the effects of this crisis will never be over. Practically, too, I know that you are better hearing this news from me, all at once.

Not me; I instead ask why these claims weren't resolved ASAP after you arrived here. We're not hearing this bad news "all at once". We're hearing it day after day, month after month, year after year. Must it next be decade after decade?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Priests are happy without wives

This column by Andrew Greely ran in the January 24, 2008 edition of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
I see by the papers that priests in Milwaukee are sending a delegation to meet with their archbishop about the terrible state of their morale.

Priests, or Priests Alliance priests?

Update: In the January 31, 2008, issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, Father Greeley's column drew an op-ed by Father Andrew Nelson and a letter to the editor from Mark Peters. Father Nelson is identified, but apparently space did not permit identifying Mr. Peters as a parish consultant for our Archdiocese. Fr. Greeley's critique of "crusading Catholic lay leaders" drew this rejoinder from Peters.
What we are crudading for is recognition that married sexuality (and gender) is not incompatible with any form of church leadership.

Maybe he's one of the "some people" in Thoughts and Ponderings - No. 1.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reading Rat January 2008

On authors and works in my recommended reading:

Praise Yah, by Eliot Weinberger, London Review of Books, January 24, 2008, review of The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary, by Robert Alter

Zora Neale Hurston

Thus Spake Zora: Zora Neale Hurston’s writing challenged black people as well as white, by John H. McWhorter, City Journal, Summer 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Watching Zora: Big Read directs our eyes to Harlem Renaissance writer Hurston, by Geeta Sharma Jensen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 27, 2008

Looking for Zora Neale Hurston by Ann Ducille, review of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, edited by Carla Kaplan, and Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Valerie Boyd, The New York Times, January 5, 2002

Ezra Pound

Pound's vers libre is such as is only possible for a poet who has worked tirelessly with rigid forms and different systems of metric. --T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound: His Metric and Poetry

Recommended reading:
by Ezra Pound at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Il Miglior Fabbro by Charles McGrath, review of Ezra Pound: Poet; A Portrait of the Man and His Work, Volume I: The Young Genius, 1885-1920 by A. David Moody, The New York Times, January 27, 2008

The Lasting Importance of The Cantos, reviewed by Garrick Davis of The Cantos by Ezra Pound (Fourth Collected edition), Contemporary Poetry Review, August 2004

Pound Ascendant by Marjorie Perloff, review of Ezra Pound, Poems and Translations, edited by Richard Sieburth, and Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos, edited by Richard Sieburth, Boston Review, April/May 2004

A major minor: Ezra Pound’s poetry, by Donald Lyons, The New Criterion, June 1999

Somehow, we have to put an end to Milwaukee's zero-sum culture

John S. Shiely has on op-ed in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the local business climate. As an example of the problem, he recalls the 1990s "corporate campaign" against Briggs & Stratton Corporation,
which was designed to insult and harass Briggs' executives, banks, directors, customers and other constituents. ...

If this mind-set was limited to an economics teacher [Michael Rosen of MATC] and a radical unionist [Laura Drake of the union at Briggs, and Rosen's sister], the harm would be limited, but the campaign against Briggs was supported by Milwaukee community leaders at the highest levels. The mayor excoriated Fred Stratton by name on Labor Day. Milwaukee's religious community ran a negative campaign against our company, including a vicious stealth attack by our local Catholic archbishop that was well chronicled in an article I wrote, which was published in The Wall Street Journal. These counterproductive initiatives just don't happen anywhere else we do business.

The article he refers to was Weakland's Strong Hand: My encounter with the former archbishop and his tactics, in The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2002.
Not long after, Briggs & Stratton filed a libel suit against the National Catholic Reporter and began taking depositions. Lo and behold, we discovered that the archdiocese was a prime mover in the attack, as a reporter's notes revealed. A top archdiocesan official had spoken with the writer in an extensive interview that included polemical comments about Briggs & Stratton's layoffs and noted my Catholic affiliation. Under oath, the official denied recollecting that the interview had anything to do with Briggs & Stratton. Moreover, NCR's editor testified under oath that, in the wake of the lawsuit, Archbishop Weakland offered him advice about handling the media.

In another letter I confronted the archbishop with the depositions. He responded in a curious way. "I do hope you don't find yourself dragged into more and more unpleasantness . . .," he wrote to me. "The diocese has taken no personal stances concerning Briggs & Stratton and its executives and I do hope that we will not be forced to do so in any way." I construed the letter as a threat to attack us personally if any of this came out.

For which our former Archbishop remains unapologetic.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #9

Dr. Howard Fuller of Marquette University's Institute for the Transformation of Learning shares his insight on special educational challenges in southeastern Wisconsin.

Ed Drexler of Pius XI High School and Chrissy Hinn of St. Dominic School, Sheboygan, discuss how their service as Catholic school teachers has had an impact on elementary and secondary school students.

Archbishop Dolan welcomes a special guest to the Living Our Faith set. Sister Mary Daily Bosco, one of Archbishop Dolan's elementary school teachers, shares stories about their days at Holy Infant Parish School in Ballwin, Missouri.
"Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan" airs on WISN TV 12 at Noon on Saturday, January 26. The program also is available on Time Warner Cable's Wisconsin on Demand, Channel 1111.

The program is available for download.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Planning Commission Reports 2006-07

Here are our Archdiocese of Milwaukee statistics for each parish,
by district number with district location
by year: Average Mass attendance/Registered Members (%)

District 1 Kenosha County east of I-94
2005: 9,982/27,281 (36%)
2006: 9,529/26,092 (37%)

District 2 Racine County east of I-94
2005: 9,268/31,265 (30%)
2006: 9,712/29,971 (32%)

District 3 Walworth County and Kenosha & Racine Counties west of I-94
2005: 14,064/40,657 (34%)
2006: 14,341/39,530 (36%)

District 4 Waukesha County East
2005: 25,916/70,194 (37%)
2006: 23,703/73,489 (32%)

District 5 Waukesha County West
2005: 16,060/47,121 (34%)
2006: 15,908/46,403 (34%)

District 6 Washington County
2005: 13,447/34,576 (38%)
2006: 13,227/34,811 (37%)

District 7 Dodge County
2005: 5,133/13,714 (37%)
2006: 5,013/12,329 (40%)

District 8 Fond du Lac County
2005: 10,977/28,352 (39%)
2006: 10,512/28,254 (37%)

District 9 Sheboygan County
2005: 8,015/21,415 (37%)
2006: 8,365/20,743 (39%)

District 10 Ozaukee County
2005: 9,931/28,575 (35%)
2006: 9,826/27,656 (35%)

District 11 Milwaukee County-Far North
2005: 8,303/24,991 (33%)
2006: 7,870/20,907 (37%)

District 12 Milwaukee County-Central Northwest
2005: 8,340/26,138 (32%)
2006: 8,016/25,852 (31%)

District 13 Milwaukee County – Near north and lower eastside
2005: 7,792/15,985 (49%)
2006: 7,476/16,246 (46%)

District 14 Milwaukee County, near south side
2005: 11,992/21,434 (56%)
2006: 12,108/22,719 (53%)

District 15 Milwaukee County, far southeast side
2005: 15,551/42,268 (37%)
2006: 15,260/40,977 (37%)

District 16 Milwaukee County, southwest
2005: 19,836/56,003 (35%)
2006: 19,917/56,674 (38%)

"Better know a district."

Update: Attendance and membership were up in five districts and down in eleven. As a result, it's no comfort that as many districts showed the attendance percentage up as down.

District 14 at 53% and District 13 at 46% were the only ones with an attendance percentage outside the range of 31-40%.

Feel free to point out if I made any errors in transfering data.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saint John Paul?

On Tuesday, the Atlantic Monthly took down the subscriber wall at its online edition. This "Flashback" from April 1, 2007 contains
A selection of Atlantic writings on Pope John Paul II offer insight into the man, his leadership style, and his far-reaching influence

(via KausFiles)

Doyle pushes tax incentives, warns of spending cuts

Steven Walters, Stacy Forster and Patrick Marley report in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on last night's State of the State address by Governor Doyle. The article includes this background.
Historically, Capitol politicians have been unable - or unwilling - to control spending.

General-fund spending will grow by $1.2 billion - or 9.4% - over a two-year period ending in mid-2009, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. That is three times the 3% assumed growth in state income and sales taxes this year.

The relevant comparison would be with assumed growth over the same two-year period, but the deficit is there. By my calculation, continuing 9.4% biennial increases would double general-fund spending in 15 years.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cohabitation: Why the church says it’s still wrong

This was the cover article by Cheri Mantz in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald's new "My Faith" section that came with the January 17, 2007 issue. The previous week's print edition had a "letter from the editor" by Brian T. Olszewski explaining that My Faith is "intended for Catholics 17- to 27- years-old." [hyphens his] To be published in May and September as well, it will also be distributed directly to students in Catholic high schools and through Catholic college campus ministries and public college Newman centers.

The article drew a comment at Dad29.
This is pretty consistent with what passes for reporting in the Catholic press right here in Milwaukee. For example, there's a recent article in which the Archbishop gives advice to engaged couples advising them not to live together before marriage, and if they are currently living together, to separate until the wedding. It then goes on to say that Fr. Yockey at St. Jerome counsels engaged couples and makes it clear he will not marry them if they live together. As a result, they have only 10 marriages per year. On the other hand, Fr. Eichenberger of Cedarburg, says "It is my practice to never scold couples who are living together, after all, this is a sin that ends the moment they are married. I am much more concerned about whether they attend Mass." He continues, "No reasons for living together are morally permissible, but they are certainly understandable. So I practice compassion and Divine Mercy."

So there, subtly (or perhaps not so), we continue down the road of ambiguity. The right is held up for our edification, and then, just as quickly, qualified as being impractical. Is it any wonder so many are so confused?

Imagine if we used that last line as excuse for morally improper behavior in our households. Every rule we have could be excused. What a mess we'd be in in our homes. What a mess we are in in our Church because of it. ...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Which side?

At GarveyBlog,
Is the Pope Catholic? as we used to ask.

Who's this "we" kemo sabe? as we used to ask.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thoughts and Ponderings - No.1

This is the first of a four-part series by the Vicar of Planning of our Archdiocese of Milwaukee on what he sees for the future. The intended audience isn't specified; there is a 2008 Vision 21 Committee, but T&P is posted it for all the world to see.

In his Spiritual Preface he says,
...we trust that the Holy Spirit, according to a divinely determined timing, enriches the Church (the people of God) with gifts that are needed for the good of Church at that particular moment.

If that has always been so, then it was true all during the time our current problems developed.

He then goes on to think an ponder on several topics. "No order of priority is intended." he says.

First topic, presumably randomly, is "Importance of the Celebration of Mass." He implies the drop in Mass attendance is due to the decline in the number of priests. That's clearly contrary to fact but serves to lay the groundwork for this.
Some people see the solution to lie within reach, if the Church would ordain properly prepared men and women, regardless of marital status. Some also suggest that the Church should invite priests who departed from active ministry to return to sacramental work. While I appreciate the deep and sincere conviction these people have for these solutions, I do not see these resolutions as something that can be decided locally nor do I see them to be in the offing for the universal Church. Consequently, although knowing that this might be offensive to some but not wanting to offend anyone, my work as Vicar for Planning does not rely on these remedies.

He puts this as if Church teaching and practice is something to apologize for and blame on Vatican bureaucrats. Maybe priests and staffers projecting that kind of attitude has more to do with the decline in Mass attendance than whether Sunday Mass is available at a convenient distance.

Second topic "Parish (what it is and isn’t)." It's the people, not the buildings. (When you hear something like that, it's usually only a matter of time until there's a building fund drive.)

Third topic "Parish Life and the Life of Parishioners." If parishes are the people, "would we be willing to do whatever it takes in order to afford" various innovations and enhancements to spread the Faith. (At least those aspects of the Faith that don't offend the "some people" referred to in the first topic.)

Fourth topic "Organizational Structure of the People (Parishes)." He talks of "coordination" to evangelize; it's unclear how what is to be said on who can be ordained will be coordinated. (As I've noted before, three St. Al's pastors in a row deny there's a need to coordinate the parish liturgy with what's in our Christian Formation texts, let alone the GIRM , so I'm not optimistic about coordination on a broader scale.)

At this point, take a look at our Archdiocese's parallel Faith In Our Future fundraising initiative's goals. Isn't there a potential problem having people pledge money for "Strengthening 211 Parishes" while the Vicar of Planning is pushing their consolidation?

Reflecting parish consolidations, he goes on to suggest our Archdiocese's current 16 districts be consolidated into eight or nine.

Fifth topic "Quantity of Priests and Religious."
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, however, the projections indicate that in about 15 years the number will begin to level off with approximately 100-120 archdiocesan priests serving in active ministry.

About half as many as the 211 parishes.

Sixth topic "New Forms of Parish Leadership." Permanent deacons and ecclesial ministers will do more.

Finally "Other thoughts." He anticipates people continuing to move to suburban and exurban Milwaukee, and growth in the number of Latinos, or is it Hispanics. The pastoral need for priests does not necessarily reflect the number of people. (Reading things like this always makes me think of the closing of most of the inner city parishes in the 1990s.)

The next issue of Thoughts and Ponderings will be on "discipleship, stewardship and planning for the future."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Political Football

Lauren Fox of Shorewood, Wisconsin, is one of five writers around the country asked by The New York Times op-ed page to file regular dispatches on the presidential race. From her report in today's edition,
A month before our Feb. 19 primary, frenzied, feverish discussion of the Packers, who are one game from the Super Bowl, has all but obliterated more contentious political debate. Local reporters wear green and gold and top off the nightly newscasts not with stories about candidates or issues, but with quirky tales of fans building shrines in their homes or Brett Favre ice sculptures in their front yards. The streets are frequently empty of cars, and there are precious few political yard signs to be found.

I don't see a downside.

In the Times Sports section there's Games Hardened by Winter Stay Deeply Etched in Memory by John Branch, and All Roads Still Lead to Lombardi by Dave Anderson.

sic transit 'Gloria'

There was no Gloria at Mass today at St. Al's.

At some point in the distant past, the parish purchased Gather hymnals in hardcover. Still in the pews, these say "The Gloria is omitted during Advent and Lent." (No. 68). The parish also purchases the paperback Breaking Bread annual hymnal. The 2008 edition says (p. 6) "On Sundays outside Advent and Lent and on solemnities and feasts, all sing or say:" the Gloria. The text I use for my Christian Formation class reviews the order of the Mass, and after the penitential rite, says "The ancient song of praise, the Gloria comes next." (Send Out Your Spirit: A Confirmation Candidate's Handbook for Faith 2003 by Michael Amodio, p. 173.)

It's not Advent or Lent, so why no Gloria? The issue came up at our then-new pastor's town hall meeting on liturgy last year. He explained that the Gloria is omitted during Ordinary Time to emphasize how ordinary it is. Even I, an untrained catechist, know that's not what "ordinary" means in the context of Ordinary Time. And it's a different answer than a prior pastor, a seminary classmate of our current pastor, gave to the same question.

In the absence of a real answer from the parish, I looked elsewhere. According to this article, at least, skipping the Gloria is among "Innovations [which] were said to make Mass 'meaningful' for young children." I've seen most of the listed innovations at parish Masses, so that might be the parish liturgical model.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Living Our Faith - Episode 8

As seen on TV.

Segment 1: Guest Father Bryan Massingale is a priest of our Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He's now on a two semester sabbatical at Marquette University writing a book on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Catholic Church teaching on social justice. While there are many commonalities, so far he has not found a direct influence of Church teaching on Rev. King's philosophy of justice. King was explicit that he was not a social activist, rather he was a minister of the Gospel. Fr. Massingale's book is to be published by Orbis Books. This topic was chosen because of the upcoming King holiday, or "Feast" as Archbishop Dolan referred to it. If the show is on for a second season, he invited Massingale back to talk about the book.


Segment 2 on the depictions of saints included a visit to Conrad Schmitt Studios. Next Bob Dolan asks our Archbishop about his favorite depictions of saints in churches. He replies naming several churches in Rome, but says he's been impressed with the stained glass windows in some of the rural churches of our Archdioceses.


Segment 3 our Archbishop answers emailed questions. Regarding the upcoming anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, he stressed that this is an issue of a fundamental right to life, not an issue of uniquely Catholic belief. (He called it a "civil rights" issue, perhaps to connect it to MLK.) He did say the anniversary could appropriately be a day of penance or repentance. Regarding people who consider returning to the Church but think they lack education in the Faith, he said he wanted them to be welcome, to feel at home, and to be spiritually nourished. (Does the Living Our Faith initiative include "remedial" catechesis?) As to how Catholics could unite and live our Faith, he said first be joining together at Sunday Mass, in work in soup kitchens, pro-life advocacy, hospice work, work in health care, in our marriages, homes and families, even participation in politics. As a specific, he noted the February 23rd Men of Christ event.


Segment 4 was our Archbishop's closing reflection. When he arrived in Milwaukee, a reporter noted his rapid rise in the Church and asked what his next goal was, Cardinal perhaps. He noted the Second Vatican Council's universal call to holiness, and said his goal is to be a saint, and his job is to help us all become saints. He didn't say explicitly, but it's then everyone's job to help everyone become a saint. (Of course, that's the ultimate goal. I assume his nearer-term goal is to be successful enough in Milwaukee that he's made cardinal archbishop somewhere else. He wisely leaves it to us to say a stint in Milwaukee can be a good career step.)

Next week's topic is education, with Howard Fuller, and some teachers, including an Irish nun who taught young Timothy Dolan in grade school.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Religious orders bring clout to war on bottled water

Laura Lloyd reported in the National Catholic Reporter
Says Glenmary Fr. John S. Rausch, who writes, teaches and organizes in Appalachia: “Toting bottled water has a cachet of sophistication. But if people cared about the earth, they might not be flaunting their water bottles. We are destroying the sacramental system” of the wide availability of clean, free water when companies privatize water and sell it for a profit.

I've never encountered clean, free water, whether from a private company, or a municipal water works. Clean yes, free no.

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Catholic group wins suit

Erica Perez reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the U.S. District Court in Madison has issued a preliminary injuction in favor of the Roman Catholic Foundation against the University of Wisconsin. The Foundation supports St. Paul's University Catholic Center. The dispute is over requests for funds from student fees assessed in addition to tuition.
The university argued in this case that it would violate the constitutional separation of church and state to pay a student group for activities related to prayer or worship. But lawyers for the Roman Catholic Foundation countered that the university's policy of denying reimbursement violated the students' First Amendment rights to free speech.

The court was persuaded by the Foundation's argument, so far.

Update: Here's the court's order.
(via WisPolitics)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vision: 21st Century Planning

Get out your reorg boots. Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee's latest round of downsizing is called "Vision: 21st Century Planning". The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Planning page explains,
After more than 15 years and three cycles of archdiocesan planning initiatives, we find ourselves at the dawn of a new millennium in need of a comprehensive plan for Mission and Ministry.

That is, it's time for the next turn in the widening gyre.

The project has Principles and Guidelines to Organize People and Activities in Service to the Mission of the Church. These pack a lot of newchurchspeak into one page. For example,
1. Living our faith, serving the mission of the Church, is integral to our baptism promises. ...

4. A visible and vibrant Eucharistic-based, Catholic presence that communicates the love of Jesus Christ for all people provides an identity to the community at large about who we Catholics are and what we are about. ...

5. ... Thus, our pastoral planning should utilize territorial considerations insofar as they further a certain aspect of the mission, while also allowing other aspects of the mission to flourish throughout the archdiocese without territorial considerations. ...

6. ... Thus, our pastoral planning should identify position specifications and qualifications for these leaders (at least the major ones), as well as policies for their formation, assignment, employment, or empowerment.

The Vicar for Planning elaborates in a four-part series called "Thoughts and Ponderings". Time permitting, I'll take a look at these in some later posts.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

WCC Opposes Changes to Rules for Abuse Claims

Said the Capitol Update December 7, 2007 of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.
The WCC is opposed to a bill that is expected to be introduced in mid-December, which would repeal the statute of limitations in civil suits relating to child sexual abuse cases, and provide a three-year, one-time “window” in which victims can bring a civil action in cases previously barred by the current statute.


More information will be forthcoming in future editions of the Capitol Update.

If you needed something to pass the time while waiting for the next Capitol Update, you could take a look at the bills, SB356, introduced December 17, 2007, and AB651, introduced January 3, 2008. The bills have lined up quite a bit of support, according to a listing at the National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children. On January 10th, the local chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) emailed that the bills were set for hearings,
1. Wednesday, January 16: The Senate hearing (Judiciary Committee), 1pm, Rm 411 South, State Capitol

2. Thursday, January 24: Assembly hearing (Children and Family Law). 9am, Rm 328 NW. State Capitol

Obviously these bills are on a fast track.

After the weekend, the WCC emailed the promised-to-be-forthcoming Capitol Update. Though at this writing the Update is not posted on the WCC website, WCC has posted this Issue Brief: Lawsuits Involving Sexual Abuse of Children. This afternoon the WCC emailed about tomorrow morning's hearing, again including this appeal.

Please write your legislators...

For a hearing tomorrow, I might have suggested call, email, and then write your legislators. The email listed talking points for constituents, adding,
As you make the points discussed above, please emphasize that the Catholic Church remains committed to the healing process for victims/survivors of child abuse.

The bills are extremely bad policy, but I wouldn't bet against their passing if the best the Church's lobbyists can finally come up with is to have us blathering about being "committed to the healing process".

P.S. On the other hand, maybe it is a wonderful turn of phrase, and a special liturgy/Mass for victims/survivors could include "...but only say the word and my soul shall be committed to the healing process."

Update: from the LaCross Tribune, January 17, 2008, Lawmakers ponder wiping out time limits on child sex abuse suits. "Unjust" versus "validation"; now that's a battle the Church could win.

Update 2: Andrew Beckett reported for the Wisconsin Radio Network on Lifting limits on sexual abuse lawsuits
Archbishop Dolan's testimony at WCC
(via The Wheeler Report)

Catholic Trivia Question

This feature is included at the website of our Archdiocese of Milwaukee's "Living Our Faith" initiative. Among the "Trivia Questions" so far,
What is the significance of naming Mary's child "Jesus"?

Why is Sunday the principal day for celebration of the Eucharist?

Monday, January 14, 2008


Matt Malone, S.J., at In All Things
On Meet the Press this [Sunday] morning, Senator Hillary Clinton accused her host, Tim Russert, of being 'Jesuitical' in his argumentation. The Jesuit-educated Russert (Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y. and John Carroll University in Cleveland) was pressing Senator Clinton on her 2002 vote to authorize war in Iraq. ...

See transcript part 3.

Malone explains,
Now according to the Oxford American Dictionary, "Jesuitical" has two meanings. The first is the more benign: "of or concerning the Jesuits." Okay, that's straightforward. But the word has a second meaning, which is almost always pejorative and was born of the old anti-Jesuit canard that we can be a little slick with our reasoning. Here the word means, "Dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits."


Liturgy reform: No going back

From an editorial in the December 28, 2007 National Catholic Reporter.
What they have always known in Rome is important for all of us to know: Liturgy is the visible expression of the arrangement of power.

I'll keep that in mind if I see their publication use the term "servant-leader".

Sunday, January 13, 2008

St. Alphonus Parish Council Minutes December 3, 2007

Posted on the bulletin board in the church foyer.

In the Pastor's report,
Sometime after 1/08 notice in bulletin about ad hoc committee for freshening on church interior including painting, cleaning, lighting.

The prevailing mindset of parish leadership is largely unchanged since the 1970s, and the interior of the church building embodying that mindset is largely unchanged since the dedication in 1985. Our pastor said in today's homily that some people think of St. Al's [stats D16 15th/15 27%] as "cutting edge", but as you can see it's more Museum of the Cutting Edge.

In New Business, some old business, and a peek into parish politics.
A church for Xeochoil [sic] update ... Outreach [Committee] is not in favor of dedicating a Sunday for church at this time as money was given to Friendship w/o Borders

the parish's group for foreign mission trips
5 years ago (which, it was noted, was returned as sufficient funds were raised elsewhere)

and they [Outreach] do not support "bricks & mortar" projects. Outreach does not see this as a relationship building endeavor.

On the parish website, it says of Outreach,
The role of this committee is to allocate to Christian charities at the local, state, federal, and international level the amount which the Parish collects in special collections. This committee is directly accountable to the Parish Council.

This gives you some idea what "accountable" means at St. Al's. (Maybe that helps explain our liturgy.)

This item in the minutes goes on,
Support timeline to be approx. 1 year, for $35,000 in funds, which would be our maximum support. ...

(See this earlier post.)

P.S. Xecoil looks like it would be a component for a photocopy machine, but is pronounced shay-co-eel' ala KC and the Sunshine Band.

Nicolaus Copernicus

Recommended reading:
by Nicolaus Copernicus at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Under His Hat by Owen Gingerich, review of Copernicus' Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began by Jack Repcheck, The New York Times, January 13, 2008

Chasing Copernicus, by John Noble Wilford, review of The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus by Owen Gingerich, New York Times, July 18, 2004

Game goes off with a hitch

Bill Glauber reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on yesterday's wedding of Beth Zaidel and Luke Beno at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in Green Bay.
... 3 1/2 blocks from Lambeau [Field] - a bunch of long field goals away - Zaidel and Beno took their wedding vows. Guests parked for free on the left side of the church parking lot, and Packer fans paid $10 to park on the right side.

The wedding Mass began at 3 p.m., just 30 minutes before the opening kickoff.

And finished at 3:50 p.m.
... [Father Dennis] Bergsbaken was ready to change his clothes and make a quick dash to Lambeau Field.

He figured he'd reach his bleacher seat in the end zone by the start of the second quarter.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

E. H. Gombrich

On this author:

The starry night begins, Ten Reasons, by Rich Leonardi, January 7, 2008

The Philosopher in the Storm: Cultural Historian E.H. Gombrich's Troubled Achievement, by Susannah Rutherglen, Yale Review of Books, Spring 2004

Ernst Gombrich, 1909-2001, Notes & Comments, The New Criterion, December 2001

On other works by this author:

A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich, translated by Caroline Mustill, Yale University Press (via Ten Reasons)

Mayoral race springs from the past

John Neville reports in Franklin Now, January 10, 2007. The subhead "Candidates cite taxes, development as issues" means the substantive issues. On the side, Mayor Taylor filed a challenge to some of the signatures on Alderman Ryan's nomination papers. Alderman Ryan shortly thereafter filed a challenge to some of Mayor Taylor's.

(via Sprawled Out)

Mr. Neville also reports that down the ballot Three Common Council seats up for election but only "Two races are contested".

Finally Neville reports that Four in running for two vacant spots on School Board. The District is a bigger operation than the City, but its elections usually draw less attention.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Welcome to the Future: Tata Motors’ Disposable 1-Lakh Car

Samir Syed at The Truth About Cars
The era of the mass market disposable car is nigh. Let’s check the trend...

In 1909, Ford’s entry-level Model T cost $850. In 2008, the Ford Focus’ base price is $13,715. Priced in 1909 dollars, Ford’s entry-level U.S. model would cost $633. That’s a net savings of $217 in 1909 dollars compared to the Model T, or about 26 percent. And that’s without considering the vast improvements in safety, comfort, reliability, performance, etc.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

St. Alphonsus Parishioners Live Their Faith by Committing to Building New Church in Guatemala

At the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's web site there's a graphic link to the Living Our Faith evangelization initiative, and its home page links include examples of how living our faith means to teach, inspire, and serve. This was the first example of service, from November 29, 2007.
What began 12 years ago as a youth ministry project at St. Alphonsus Parish, Greendale, has now grown to a parish-wide initiative to build a new church for residents of Xecoil, Guatemala.

Just in case you were ever told that mission is not about building churches. Here's an earlier post from the visit to Xecoil, and an earlier post about the fund drive.
Formal approval was given at a November parish council meeting at which the Xecoil project was discussed, along with the archdiocesan Living Our Faith initiative.

Of the three current Archdiocesan initiatives, Faith In Our Future was fundraising. Now the evangalization initiative, Living Our Faith, turns into fundraising. Next, I suppose, the Vision: 21st Century Planning initiative will turn into fundraising.
There has been an abundance of ideas to generate financial support for the Xecoil project.

Including, in Youth Ministry, substituting it for the usual project, financing two new homes for people in Central America or the Caribbean through Food for the Poor. I'm skeptical that there's an evangelization, or community-building, benefit from yet another fund drive at our parish that outweighs making these "Third World" people wait for their church and their houses.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The dumb question of the day

From page 2 of Roger Simon's report Inside New Hampshire
At a press availability with Hillary Clinton (and, as far as I can tell, the only difference between a press availability and a press conference is that reporters get to sit down at a press conference), a reporter pointed to Clinton’s bracelet and asked: “Is that a crucifix?”

Clinton seemed a little taken aback. “I’m sorry, what?” she said.

“Is that a crucifix?” the reporter repeated.

“It’s a cross,” Clinton replied.

Clinton, who has a staggering range of knowledge and isn’t afraid to show it off, had it right, of course: A crucifix has the depiction of the body of Jesus on it and a cross does not.

But the reporter had his follow-up ready.

“Does it have religious significance?” he asked.

Everybody erupted in laughter.

Does a cross have religious significance? Is that what he really asked?

“Talk about the secular press!” Clinton said.

(via Terry Mattingly at Get Religion)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


...Joseph Ratzinger had cats around himself for decades, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF is on the Via Aurelia, one of the most traffic-heavy streets in Rome. Daily, cats are killed or injured. Quite a few drag themselves into the garden of the CDF, where Ratzinger resided and movingly cared for them, feeding them, bandaging their wounds, watching them lie in the sun and slowly get better. And he gave names to all of them.

He wanted to write about these cats, but the election to the Papacy foiled these plans, now he has to take care of the global Church instead of the little cats at the Via Aureli. ...

(translated from an article in Bild Zeitung by Gerald Augustinus)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Huge Abortion Battle Looming

Says Wisconsin Right-to-Life in a press release.
Pro-abortion legislators have drafted legislation to repeal s. 940.04 of the Wisconsin statutes. S. 940.04 prohibits abortions in Wisconsin except when the mother’s life is in danger. This 150-year old protective law cannot be enforced now because of Roe v. Wade.

(via WisPolitics)

Know Your Enemy

Let me see if I understand this - John Edwards and the Krugman Democrats want to negotiate with the Iranians and North Koreans but not the drug companies or health insurers.
--Tom Maguire

Lawsuit could mean return to principles

The Kenneth Mich who wrote this letter to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is, I hear, Father Kenneth Mich, pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Menomonee Falls [stats D4 1st/16 45%]. He wrote in support of a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the recently-enacted Defense of Marriage amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution, Article XIII, Section 13.
As a child in what was then called civics class, I was taught that our form of government is exceptional because it protects the rights of a minority against the will of the majority.

Article I, Section 1, of the Wisconsin Constitution, much like the Declaration of Independence, says more than that.
All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to secure these rights, governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

His civics class seems to have never got around to that consent of the governed part. [Father] Mich goes on
It was indicative that some of the rhetoric promoting the marriage amendment in Wisconsin stated the exact opposite - let the people of Wisconsin decide - in other words, let the people of Wisconsin decide on the rights of a minority by submitting those rights to a majority vote in the amendment process.

This was as opposed to having the issue decided by litigation, as [Father] Mich now advocates.

(via Dad29)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Obama's Gift

Ezra Klein at The American Prospect on the Senator's speeches.
He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair.

(via Kaus Files)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Look Where We are Headed...

That's the caption of a picture postcard from the Franklin Public Schools showing a two lane road with no sidewalks, curbs, gutters, or street lights, running through land waiting to be developed into new subdivisions.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

The true shape of Christian hope

Pope Benedict XVI on the limits of what can be done by restructuring.
a) The right state of human affairs, the moral well-being of the world can never be guaranteed simply through structures alone, however good they are. Such structures are not only important, but necessary; yet they cannot and must not marginalize human freedom. Even the best structures function only when the community is animated by convictions capable of motivating people to assent freely to the social order. Freedom requires conviction; conviction does not exist on its own, but must always be gained anew by the community.

b) Since man always remains free and since his freedom is always fragile, the kingdom of good will never be definitively established in this world. Anyone who promises the better world that is guaranteed to last for ever is making a false promise; he is overlooking human freedom. Freedom must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Free assent to the good never exists simply by itself. If there were structures which could irrevocably guarantee a determined—good—state of the world, man's freedom would be denied, and hence they would not be good structures at all.

--On Christian Hope (Spe Salvi), 24

Key two-way races set for spring

Larry Sandler's report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel includes this.
The mayor's race in Franklin is likely to be heated as former Ald. Basil Ryan, who was ousted in a recall in 2003, attempts to unseat incumbent Tom Taylor.

Two of three aldermanic elections are contested.
District 3: Alan R. Hammelman (inc.), Kristen Wilhelm
District 4: Pete Kosovich (inc.), Steve F. Taylor
District 6: Ken Skowronski (inc.)


Witnessing the Gospel: Another take on 'evangelization'

Bishop Richard J. Sklba wrote the "Herald of Hope" column in the December 13, 2007 issue of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
Earlier this month the archdiocese inaugurated an evangelization initiative titled Living our Faith: Meet Christ! Know Christ! Live Christ! I'd like to offer some further thoughts about the implied opportunity to take a hard look at our American way of life as part of this effort. We simply can't accept some of the attitudes taken for granted around us these days! Allow me to list of few of the issues as I see them.

He starts with the Drug Culture.
If our youth engage in illegal substances, they only imitate their elders. There is enough addiction to go around for everyone. Blaming the farmers in Colombia won't help until we remove the demand here at home. We have a long way to go before we Christian Americans understand the fundamental command to pick up our cross and bear discomfort.

That same issue provided this timely example, Brookfield parish coping with arrest of pastor.
In another area of life, our American society has become diseased by the sad presumption that huge amounts of money make the best political campaign and surface the finest leaders.

Why are millions for, say, a state-wide election campaign surprising in light of the $9 million fund-raising expense of our Archdiocese's Faith In Our Future campaign?
There also seems to be a rampant militarism in our attitude toward life.

He leads with an odd choice of examples.
The ease with which we give war toys to children at Christmas and make khaki-colored clothing so trendy for adults ...

You might recall his earlier column on a violent world started by citing Popeye cartoons (see this earlier post). I'm surprised he didn't use Navy-veteran Popeye here as an example of rampant militarism. Providentially, indications are Popeye did not achieve a rank permitting him to wear a khaki uniform.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Judge Throws Out Church Lawsuit

At WISN 12, an Associated Press report on dismissal of the case brought against the Diocese of Superior by the family of Daniel O'Connell.

(via WisPolitics)

Here are earlier posts on the lawsuit and on the Dan O'Connell Society.

St. Alphonsus Parish Council Minutes November 4, 2007

In the Pastor's report, more on the archdiocesan internal evangelization campaign.
Living Our Faith launched 12/1 ... 16 week program from Advent to Easter.

There was a Living Our Faith poster in the church foyer.
Christ had no formal training as teacher.
Knowledge like that comes from the heart.

Put that way, it makes the $105 million to be raised in the Faith In Our Future campaign seem superfluous.

In New Business,
A church for Xeocoil [sic] proposed...this would be all groups in a parish-wide effort, may tie into "Living Our Faith" diocese initiative.

(see this earlier post)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hobo Matters

Ken Burnsian adaptation from The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman, narrated by the author.